Advocacy 2.0: An Analysis of How Advocacy Groups in the United States Perceive and Use Social Media as Tools for Facilitating Civic Engagement and Collective Action

25 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2011 Last revised: 19 Aug 2014

Jonathan A. Obar

York University; Quello Center - Michigan State University

Paul Zube

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Cliff Lampe

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information

Date Written: November 8, 2011

Abstract

In light of a thriving interest in social media’s ability to enhance various forms of political and organizational communication, a survey of 169 representatives from 53 national advocacy/activist groups operating in the United States was conducted to assess the extent to which these groups perceive and use social media as tools for facilitating civic engagement and collective action. Quantitative results reveal that all groups are using a variety of social media technologies to communicate with citizens almost every day. Facebook is the outlet of choice, followed closely by Twitter. Email remains popular with some groups emailing 8 million members each week. Qualitative results suggest that groups believe that social media can facilitate civic engagement and collective action by strengthening outreach efforts, enabling engaging feedback loops, increasing speed of communication and by being cost-effective. While some groups raised doubts about social media’s ability to overcome the limitations of weak ties and generational gaps, an overwhelming majority of groups see social media as essential to contemporary advocacy work and social movements, and laud its democratizing function.

Keywords: social media, social network, social movement, civic engagement, collective action, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, advocacy, advocacy group, activist, weak ties, blogs, wikis, email, new media studies

Suggested Citation

Obar, Jonathan A. and Zube, Paul and Lampe, Cliff, Advocacy 2.0: An Analysis of How Advocacy Groups in the United States Perceive and Use Social Media as Tools for Facilitating Civic Engagement and Collective Action (November 8, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1956352 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1956352

Jonathan A. Obar (Contact Author)

York University ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Quello Center - Michigan State University ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

Paul Zube

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Cliff Lampe

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information ( email )

304 West Hall
550 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1092
United States

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